A Lapeer County educator known for her passion for teaching has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Amber White, is a BK through twelfth grade Literacy Curriculum Director at North Branch Area Schools.
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence In Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public-school educators across the state during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $1,500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school, or school district. One of the weekly winners will be selected as the Educator of the Year and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
Each winner also is featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations: WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, FOX 47 in Lansing, and WNEM-TV in Saginaw. The news segment featuring White will air this evening.
White said she always wanted to be a teacher growing up.
“When I was seven years old, I jotted down my top career choices on a piece of paper and my top choice was teaching. I am and will always be an educator first. Teaching is what I have genuine passion for and is the fabric of who I am. I came from a family that taught me at a young age that education arms you against oppression, gives you independence, and is intellectually rewarding.”
White’s favorite activity to do with students is reading, writing, and any project that allows students to create things.
“I have a deep appreciation for any projects or task where students have to create and put things out into the world that have authentic purposes and audiences. One project that has taken root across our entire sixth grade is a website curiosity project. Students work in tandem to research, compose, and design a website on an inquiry-based topic of curiosity.
“I also love getting students excited about reading and writing. When it comes to reading, my aim is to help all students experience reading as escapism. Writing is a symphony for the brain. It’s beautifully complex and challenging for students – and adults! Over the years, I have had great feedback from students on using process writing groups. As students work on their piece with their group, they begin to learn so much about the process of writing.”
The superintendent of North Branch Area Schools nominated her for the award. The nomination cited her passion for teaching and dedication to students, staff members, and the school district.
“I have been in education for 37 years, the last 6 as superintendent of North Branch Area Schools and have not worked with anyone who is more passionate about supporting teachers and educating our youth. Amber routinely works 80+ hours per week because she spends her day supporting teachers in the classroom and then her evenings working on grants, technology, and curriculum issues. I would put Amber’s intelligence, work ethic, dedication to students, and passion for education up against anyone in the country.
“Amber’s background is in literacy and even though her time is limited, it is important to her that she contributes locally, nationally, and internationally. She is part of the Saginaw Valley State University Writing Advisory Board and frequently publishes articles in literacy. She is also a member of the International Literacy Association (ILA). One of her articles was ranked second internationally for the most popular ILA blog post of 2019. Amber has had numerous opportunities to leave our district, which would have benefitted her financially, but she has chosen to stay with North Branch Schools due to her love for our community and school district.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Amber’s commitment to our youth. She is the rare individual who truly puts the needs of her colleagues, teachers, parents, and students before herself.”
White earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She has been an educator for 26 years, the last 5 in her current position.
Excellence in Education award nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Excellence – Their work consistently helps students and/or their schools or school districts advance to higher levels of academic achievement.
- Dedication – They consistently go above and beyond expectations to help students succeed.
- Inspiration – Their work inspires others around them to exceed expectations either academically or professionally.
- Leadership – They demonstrate clear leadership skills in their positions with their school or school districts.
- Effectiveness – The nominee’s work has clear and positive results on the educational advancement of students within the school or school district.